Skip to main content
  1. News
  2. Top News

Hospital hypochondriacs want more Medicaid

See also

Virginia hospitals are behaving like hypochondriacs jonzing for a stronger Medicaid fix.

While warning of financial doom if the state fails to expand the indigent-care system, hospitals’ revenue and hefty six-figure executive compensation packages point to healthy bottom lines.

The 2013 Virginia Health Information report shows solid operating margins at a majority of hospitals. For example:

  • Augusta Health in Fishersville, 23.28 percent.
  • Martha Jefferson in Charlottesville, 10.57 percent.
  • Rockingham Memorial Hospital in Harrisonburg, 7.69 percent.
  • UVA Medical Center, 7.43 percent.

Augusta has since placed its margin is between 8.5 percent and 13.5 percent. All four facilities are “not for profit.”

A Washington Post editorial Sunday declared that Fredericksburg-based University of Mary Washington Healthcare is in dire straits:

“It lost $30 million over the past two years and, having borrowed heavily to finance an expansion, is burdened by debt. Its $185 million in reserves represents less than half a year’s operating capital.”

Echoing Gov. Terry McAuliffe and fellow Democrats in the General Assembly, the Post prescribed Medicaid expansion as the cure.

“(Expansion) would give the state an enormous economic lift, generate thousands of jobs and provide health-care coverage to at least 250,000 Virginians. In the process, it would sustain hospitals whose financial health depends on unlocking federal funding,” the Post opined.

A local Republican leader mocked the hospitals’ Medicaid campaign as corporate “rent-seeking" from the public purse.

“I really don't think a system that can afford to lavish bonuses and nearly seven-figure salaries on its senior executives is in any danger of bankruptcy, or of having to cut back drastically on the services they offer," said Steve Albertson, GOP chairman in neighboring Stafford County, referring to UMW Healthcare.

“The fact is that hospitals, and lots of other large corporations, often carry debt strategically, often manage balance sheets strategically, and can be in excellent financial health even while posting an operating loss,” Albertson, a lawyer, told Watchdog.org.

A tax document obtained by Watchdog revealed that the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association paid its president, Laurens Sartoris, $553,082 in 2011. The industry lobbying group’s top three executives earned more than $1 million combined that year, the latest year for which data is available.

House Republicans — led by Speaker Bill Howell, R-Falmouth, and state Delegate Steve Landes, R-Verona — see no need for Virginia to rush into Medicaid expansion when Washington continues to delay Obamacare rules.

The president has extended Medicaid reimbursement formulas through October 2015, meaning no reductions in indigent-care funding to hospitals for at least 18 months.

Advertisement